As a spectator, competitive triathlete, and triathlon coach I’ve seen (and experienced more times than I would like to admit) bad races or lost time by simply mistakes. For this reason I have created the 7 Quick Tips For A Faster Triathlon. Seconds and even minutes can be gained on race day by following this advice.
1. Take in a Gel before the swim
This isn’t as important for shorter, sprint and/or olympic distance triathlons. But for a half-ironman or full ironman distance triathlon you’re definitely going to need some extra fuel. A gel before the swim start provides some quick digesting carbohydrates to fuel the fast-paced swim start and keep your energy stores topped off.
2. Hold back the first few miles of the bike
If you’re not being passed in the first few miles of the bike, slow down, like seriously… slow down. Sprinting in the start of the bike provides no benefit and 9 times out of 10 causes you to slow down towards the end of the bike leg and on the run due to fatigue. Save the hard efforts for later in the race by slowly building to a steady effort in the bike leg.
3. Visualize Transitions
Towards the end of the swim and bike legs of a triathlon start to visualize your transitions. Think about what you are about to do as soon as you exit the water or dismount bike. For example when coming in from the bike I visualize the transition process then say out loud just before I dismount “rack bike, drop helmet, put on running shoes, grab race belt, go!” Typically I do all this without thinking and find myself on the run course before I even knew what happened.
4. Break things up
Take each leg if a triathlon separately in your mind. This doesn’t mean race the swim, bike, and run, but rather just focus on the moment you are in. For example when starting the swim, the only thing on your mind should be swimming in the moment, at the pace you planned, not about the fact you will biking and running later in the day.
5. Focus on heart rate and breathing when starting the run.
When running off the bike your legs are going to feel weird or even jello like, this is normal and shouldn’t be of concern. Focus on your heart rate and breathing to find your pace, if you paced correctly on the bike the fatigue in your legs will subside.
6. Gauge your progress at the the halfway point
Both on the bike and run, do a physical and mental evaluation of your progress. Ask yourself if your pacing correctly, then estimate the effort needed for the rest of the race to adjust accordingly.
7. Repeat your own mondra
When things get hard in a triathlon (and they will), have a mondra that keeps you moving. It can be as simple as “keep pedaling, keep pedaling” or something like “run to the next aid-station”. Whatever you chose, just be sure it’s positive and keeps you moving.